Tuesday 21 October 2014

Honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani to stand trial in October if found fit

Published 20/06/2014 | 12:30

Honeymoon murder-accused Shrien Dewani will stand trial in South Africa in October if he is found fit by a mental health panel, a court has ruled.

Dewani, 34, appeared at Western Cape High Court today after receiving treatment at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town since April.

Shrien Dewani is accused of ordering the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa in 2010 (BBC Panorama/PA)
Shrien Dewani is accused of ordering the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa in 2010 (BBC Panorama/PA)

The millionaire businessman was extradited from the UK to face trial charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.

His new wife Anni Dewani died when she was shot in the neck as the couple travelled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010.

Dewani, from Bristol, is accused of paying three men to kill her during the couple's honeymoon, which he denies.

A panel of three psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist will assess Dewani's mental health over 30 days, the court ruled.

The decision follows a report by psychiatrist Dr Sean Baumann which "differed in its opinion" to that of Professor Tuviah Zabow, who is acting on behalf of the defendant, the South African Press Association reported.

Dewani was detained for observation ahead of his next court appearance on August 15. A provisional trial date was set for October 6.

Francois van Zyl, defending Dewani, said: "The accused will be ready, fit to plead for the trial to proceed on October 6, but of course it is subject to what the panel finds."

Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock said: "In view of the history of this matter and the current conflict regarding the question whether the accused suffers from a mental illness and its potential impact on his fitness to stand trial, the state is of the view that the matter must be resolved definitively."

Before his extradition, Dewani was detained in a hospital in Britain for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is the South African state's case that he conspired with Cape Town residents Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni to kill his wife.

Tongo, Qwabe, and Mngeni are already serving jail terms in connection with the murder.

Dewani has not yet been asked to plead.

He claimed he and his wife Anni were kidnapped at gunpoint as they drove through Gugulethu in Cape Town in a taxi in November 2010.

The couple had been on honeymoon in the country. He was released unharmed, but his wife's body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.

The South African authorities have been waiting for more than three years to get Dewani into the dock.

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